Noel Gordon, former chairman of the Brisbane Bears/Lions, died peacefully in his sleep about 3am today (14 September) following a long battle with cancer and dementia. He was 85.

It was a peaceful end to a life full of fun and football, according to daughter Zilla, saddened only by the fact that he would not have a chance to see the Lions perhaps play in another AFL grand final.

Zilla told how the possibility of another Lions flag had been a driving motivation for Gordon after he was advised in July this year that his cancer had advanced too far for treatment, and that he only had ‘a few months’ to live.

As recently as 26 August he watched the Lions play their Round 24 clash with St.Kilda at the Gabba from his hospital bed.

A framed photograph of himself with world-renowned South African anti-apartheid and human rights activist Desmond Tutu, taken when the Lions visited South Africa in 1998, hung proudly on the wall near his bed and was a regular talking point with doctors and nurses.

Gordon, a self-made man, was a larger than life character who loved football with a rare passion.

Born in Euroa, a small town of about 3000 people 150km north-east of Melbourne and one-time home of Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly, he was the son of a former Japanese POW and a struggling lolly shop owner.

He moved to Melbourne with his family aged ‘four or five’, attended Melbourne Grammar on a half-scholarship because he sang in the school choir, and left school at 14 because his mother couldn’t afford to pay the fees.

He worked 10 years in the Victorian police force, spent seven years as the singer in a rock ‘n roll band, and played football at the Brunswick Boys Club and with the Carlton Thirds (Under 19s) before joining the property development industry.

In 1980 he bought ‘Seven Oaks’, a low-rise development at Sorrento on the Gold Coast, and in 1981 he moved to Queensland to begin a 42-year association with football in the Sunshine State.

He will forever hold a special place in club history after being the first member of the ‘Chairman’s Circle’, a top-end coterie group formed in 1987 by inaugural chairman Paul Cronin and deputy-chairman/owner Christopher Skase.

This followed a sponsorship request from ex-Carlton great Mark Maclure, inaugural Bears assistant-coach and part-time sales executive, after the club was formed in 1987.

His company Gordon Pacific was a significant financial backer of the club in the early days, and employed star recruit Geoff Raines.

He enjoyed a close working relationship with Cronin and Skase until the Skase empire collapsed and after the club was taken over by Reuben Pelerman in 1990 he accepted the role as chairman.

In December 1991, after Pelerman had handed in the license and the club had reverted from private ownership to a traditional membership-based structure, he was appointed chairman of a new-look board and was at the helm when the club moved from Carrara to the Gabba in Brisbane.

He saw the Bears into the finals for the first time in 1995 and was a key figure in the merger with Fitzroy, formalised on 4 July 1996, that saw the birth of the Brisbane Lions.

A life member of the club, he stepped away from the public spotlight after resigning as chairman in August 1998 in the wake of the mid-season sacking of coach John Northey, but remained a passionate supporter of the club.

About 10 years ago he and second wife Margie moved to Orange in western NSW, after he’d bought a local vineyard, but returned to Brisbane in 2015 when his health deteriorated and lived in Bellbowrie until moving in aged care.